My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

Can You Live Without Power For 10 Days And Still Be Happy?

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I watched Nat Geo’s American Blackout last night.  Yes, I know I’m a bit behind the times as American Blackout premiered last year.  Hey, I don’t watch a lot of TV.  This was on my “to watch” list, and I finally got around to it last night.  BOY!  This is NOT the show to see if you do not want to be completely freaked out!  I found myself wondering what I would do.  I have some supplies on hand as part of my earthquake prep, I live in California after all, but I am no where near as “prepared” as the prepper featured in the show.  He had over 2 years worth of food, months of water and fuel, and he still had problems.  Preppers prepare for unlikely situations, but one thing many forget is that preppers are also prepared for less extreme situations.

 

Some of you may be thinking that you won’t live through a crazy, apocalyptic, world-wide disaster situation, so you don’t need to prepare for one.  If we experience a disaster of that magnitude, many people will die.  Maybe even most people.  But the truth is, most of us are unlikely to face a “zombie apocalypse” or other extreme “end of the world as we know it” scenario.

 

Not a zombie apocalypse, but a disaster we're more likely to face.  An earthquake.

Not a zombie apocalypse, but a disaster we’re more likely to face. An earthquake.  Photo courtesy of lds.org.

 

You will likely face at least ONE of these scenarios in your lifetime: unemployment, power outage, water shortage (due to contamination or other cause), flooding, large snowstorm making travel difficult, violent thunderstorm, tornado, earthquake, or a hurricane.  My parents had a power outage for several days in the Washington DC area due to storms bringing down trees which in turn brought down power lines.  Can you live without power for 3 days?  How about a week?  Back to the show, as I evaluated my own preparedness level, I recognized certain struggles people had.

 

 

Here are a few particularly problematic ones.

 

No extra water – People didn’t have water to drink, let alone water to bathe, clean dishes, their clothes, etc.  When they first lost power, they didn’t think to fill extra containers with water.  Some of the water people managed to get was not clean, and they didn’t have any way to disinfect the water.

 

Got water?

Got water?

 

Little or no shelf stable food – Most people didn’t have much to eat in their homes, and most of what they had was stored in the refrigerator and freezer.  Once the power was gone, they had to eat their food or lose it.  After their cold food was gone, they didn’t have much else.

 

Lovely Strawberry and Vanilla Strawberry Preserves!

Lovely Strawberry and Vanilla Strawberry Preserves

 

 

No easy way to prepare food – Many people didn’t have a way to prepare food without a working stove, oven or microwave.  Some people didn’t have a non-electric can opener.

 

People expected the government and aid organizations to provide immediate relief and rescue – There were some college kids stuck in an elevator, and they waited for days to escape, because they thought someone would rescue them.  One of the yuppy characters lamented that no one was coming to help her.  When a large scale disaster hits, it takes time for governments and organizations to respond.  It took a week or longer for water and food to be distributed on a broad scale in this fictional account, but it is considered a pretty accurate depiction by experts.

 

Even though governments and non-profits do their best, relief efforts take time.

Even though governments and non-profits do their best, relief efforts take time.  Photo courtesy of lds.org.

 

When people are hungry or thirsty, some become violent – Some individuals hurt and killed others for food and water.

 

Hostility toward and lack of compassion for others – As survival mode kicked in, most people’s views contracted.  They thought only of themselves and their families.  This is natural to want to provide for those closest to you, but many went beyond that myopic view and became hostile toward others.  Those with supplies didn’t want to help others, and they were unkind and didn’t try to build relationships that would have been helpful in the long term.

 

 

So… Yeah…  A lot to think about.  While I don’t know exactly what I will do if faced with a disaster of that magnitude, I can’t help but wonder what I can do to better prepare.  My thoughts strayed from the traditional mentality to considering ways to make life BETTER DURING the emergency.  Thrive, not just to survive it.  I came up with four suggestions.   (If you want to read some more “traditional” ways, check out my posts on earthquake preparedness here and here.)

My boys!  One big motivating factor in keeping life livable especially during hard times.

My boys! One big motivating factor in keeping life livable especially during hard times.

 

Build a support system NOW with family, neighbors, and friends – Don’t wait for a disaster to strike to start building relationships.  A strong support system is key to survival when emergencies hit.  I am not best friends with every single one of my neighbors, but I know most of my close neighbors (I live in a pretty large neighborhood).  I’ve even talked with a couple of them about what we would do if an earthquake (or other big emergency) hit.  I plan to join together with those neighbors and others who are willing to pool resources and work and weather the storm together.  If it’s an earthquake, I’ll look out for them, and I know those neighbors will look out for me and my family.

 

Learn skills that will improve your quality of life during an emergency  – Do you know how to prepare simple, delicious meals using basic ingredients?  Do you know how to sterilize water with bleach or iodine?  Do you know how to cook with non-traditional cooking sources such as your camp stove or baking peach cobbler in a dutch oven?  I know it’s not going to be all fun and games is there’s a major disaster, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat a hot meal with a freshly baked roll or to have dessert?  That may be a frivolous thought to some, but life is meant to be enjoyed, not just lived.

 

If you don’t know how to do that now, you won’t be able to do it when quick meals, bread, and desserts are no longer available at your store.  Think about one food you would really miss in an emergency and learn the skills necessary to prepare it on your own.  Practice making it until you’ve mastered it.  Make sure you have a printed copy of your recipe.  You don’t have to cook it every day or at all once you’ve mastered the skill.  BUT having the skills will give you the peace of mind that you know how to care for yourself (and your family) until help arrives.

 

Freshly Baked Bread sure would make a disaster better!

Freshly Baked Bread sure would make a disaster better!  Learn how to make this no knead bread here.

 

Have non-electric entertainment on hand – If there’s an emergency there will be work to be done (cooking, cleaning, etc.), but it is very important for our mental health to have a release and some down time.  Games can foster good relationships and help bring some normalcy back in crazy situations.  Look at your stash of games (if you have one).  Does it need updating?  Do you have at least one or two games you could play over and over and over again?  Start with a deck of cards.  If you want more, consider a group game.  One of our favorite games is “The Game Of Things.”  It’s different every time you play, and we love it!

 

One of our favorite family/group games.

One of our favorite family/group games.  Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

 

Have a communication/meet-up plan – How are you and your family going to get in touch with each other if there’s no electricity, no phone service, no Internet?  If you’re not together 24/7, come up with a plan.  Have a primary and secondary place to meet in the event of an emergency.  Have a contact person out of your area who is willing to serve as a point person.  You may not be able to communicate directly with your family members, but, barring a nationwide emergency, you will probably be able to reach your out of town contact who can relay information to others.

 

This is just a short list, but it’s a good start.  Do you have any ideas to add? 

What do you think will make life more enjoyable during an emergency (other than the traditional food, water, heating, cooling, etc.)? 

Please share!

 

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Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, http://forayintofoodstorage.com. Have a question about Food Storage? Email me: forayintofoodstorage@gmail.com.

31 thoughts on “Can You Live Without Power For 10 Days And Still Be Happy?

  1. All of your tips are great! I lived on an island once and after storms we’d lose power for weeks at a time. You covered a lot of what is necessary without power. And with your food reserves being built up, you’re on the right track. Having propane stoves with plenty of fuel are great to have on hand. It’s always a good idea to go through your food reserves and make a list of everything you need to open or prepare the food you have. Then make sure you have any non-electric tools needed for it.

    Great post!

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  2. My Dad (an Emergency Manager) used to play “get home” with his 5 kids. Basically he would ask us how we would get home from wherever we were, in the event of a disaster. It forces you to think about what obstacles you may face- unsafe bridges, landslides, fences, even parts of town which may riot or have heavy looting during crisis. Then, when we got older, we put this into action- he would steal our phones, hand us our sneakers and leave us to make it home on foot from different parts of our community. As much as it was a game for us- my brothers, sisters, and I all know what our priorities and challenges will be if we are away from home during a crisis. I know I cant shelter in place at work- and my 20+ mile commute will be a long haul on heels- which is why I have sneakers, jeans, and a collection of M+Ms on hand at all times. M+Ms can make the world go round after it stops 🙂 I really appreciate your love of Preparedness- it’s nice to see folks outside of the industry engaging, preparing, and spreading the word!

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  3. Reblogged this on CrashCourse.

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  4. I hate being a gloom sayer but you wrote, ” I know those neighbors will look out for me and my family.”

    As I read that I was thinking about a saying that goes “Everyone is your friend until someone says NO”.

    That one little word.
    Can you help me ? NO
    Can you spare. . ? NO

    There may be nice people in the world but eventually even they (and you) will say NO.
    Provision for yourself, take what is offered, but to give is to lessen what you may need for later.
    What would you do if you ran out through kindness and someone says NO?

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    • Perhaps I should have been more specific by saying, “I have a couple of neighbors I know I can trust who will look out for me and my family after an earthquake.”

      I am not foolish and don’t plan to help anyone and everyone who asks, because as much as I would like to, I simply can’t. At least one of my neighbors and I have talked about this quite a bit and we have a “gentlewoman’s agreement” to pool resources and help one another.

      Will it be the same if a huge earthquake hits? I don’t know. I haven’t ever been through one. But, if I cannot maintain my sense of right and wrong, it doesn’t matter much if I live through a disaster.

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      • You and that neighbor might look into setting up an aquaponics system, and if you both turned your yards into “food forests” the two of you could feed your neighborhood.
        I consider it wise and prudent to have some “heavy metal investments” to protect my other investments. But if someone comes to me who is simply hungry, I won’t have to tell them “No.”
        One aquaponics system in every church and school, and each and every neighborhood could thrive, even in a “grid down” situation.

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  5. Hey Laurie, if disaster strikes, I’ve decided I’m just heading to your house! 🙂 Seriously, though, you asked some very thought-provoking questions. Ever since you started this blog, food storage and emergency preparedness have been at the front of mind and I’ve begun taking small steps to make improvements. Thanks for the constant motivation! I definitely need it.

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  6. This is an excellent post! Absolutely top notch.

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  7. We could probably go a year – maybe longer – without hydro or having to rely on anybody but ourselves for food and water etc. we would have to use a generator to run our well once our water storage ran out – but then there’s always rain water and melting snow for options. I keep a large rotating cache of seeds for planting, our freezers are always full – and in the event of no power I would simply can all the meat up in the pressure canner – on the cookstove, or the outside fire etc. Any livestock that couldn’t survive by free ranging would have to be processed though – if the issues went in for a lengthy time. It has taken many years of hard work to get to this point though – still worth it to have that big worry off my mind.

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  8. We have food, fuel, woodstove and wood…we sort of hope that any disaster is a winter disaster so keeping cold food cold isn’t too much of problem. We have drinking water for a week, but this reminds me that it needs to be rotated. There is a community well about a mile and a half from the house, but that would be very crowded. What I really need is a belt for my old treadle sewing machine to cover the “non-electronic” entertainment part. 🙂

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  9. Invest in a Berky water filter. It will filter even ditchwater and just a few drops of bleach will disinfect the water. We used to go without power for weeks, sometimes. We have lots of kerosene lamps and fuel. Our long term storage is always being rotated and added to. Also, be prepared to defend yourself. Pressure canner is good idea. We have solar radio and flashlights. The list goes on and on. The most important thing though, is the right mindset.

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  10. Very simple: No. I am muuuuch too much of a baby to go without power for ten days. At least without extensive whining and pouting.

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  11. This is a great post Laurie! Quite a few years ago we were snowed in with no power and it was a lesson about a very simple thing. A can opener! We couldn’t open the can’s with an electric can opener! Lol A good idea is make a separate list of utensil’s that are absolutes. Lol. I finally did that and it was quite a help:) thank you again.:)

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  12. Can I go for ten days? I guess so. I’m a Katrina person. Sheesh, my neighborhood lost power on 29 August and did not have power turned on until very late November.

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    • Wow! That’s a whole lot longer than 10 days. Were you happy though? 😉

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      • Yes. Either we stayed with friends who were pretty much in the same situation and our neighborhood came together very well. We all looked after each other. And, I got to do a thing that everybody who use computers wants to do at various times. My house was pretty flooded, so we threw stuff out. One day I opened the window and tossed my flooded computer in the trash pile in the street. How many times have you thought about that? 🙂 Not to worry, that was what we did. Trucks came by and scooped up that flooded stuff up.

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  13. Great info and suggestions. I agree that everyone needs to have a plan for at least living a few days without electricity and preferably longer than that. Start with the basics–water, food and shelter.

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  14. It’s great that you are aware of the need to prepare and have prepared! My wife and I have been working for years to get off the gird and not be dependent upon anyone but ourselves. We have a lot stored water, two 50 gallon food grade containers and enough food to last us for14 months. We also have supplies, candles, batteries, toiletries, first aid and medical supplies, etc. etc. for two years. It has taken us about 6 months to get to this point but we are working hard on it every day. We have 14 solar panel now and plan to buy another 6, but we also have two generators as well that will run all of our appliances and lights. It’s all a work in progress. Once you start it’s addicting and fun to be prepared. Not only does everyone need to do this, you need to have plans incase there is no way to communicate to your spouse or children, everyone needs to know what the family plan is and how to execute it, with meeting places, etc. We are off to a good start but we are still learning.

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  15. Lol, I was telling hubby about your blog and going back over it I saw where you did mention a can opener:). Sorry ’bout that:). I just remember how hard I was opening can’s with a screwdriver and hammer! Lol

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  16. Amazing to know how others live. Great post.

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  17. Great post Laurie! I’m trying to get back into the food and water storage habit after we moved this summer. One item I’d love to get is a Sun Oven. It would be nice to have something to cook with that didn’t also need stored fuel!

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  18. A couple of years ago a digger put its blade through the mains cable and half the town was without power for over ten days until the parts were shipped up from Adelaide. (400 klms away) I had food in the freezer, tins of various things and a barbecue with a full gas bottle. We got through it. Me, my wife and the dogs had lots to eat that time.

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  19. Great post Laurie 😊something everyone should be prepared for just incase.

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  20. Thanks for the reminder that I should restock my shelves, I have grown lazy this past year but I know the importance of being prepared from living in Florida for a few years and of course living in PA and the weird weather patterns we get, not to mention I-80 runs through our city and we have freight trains all carrying waste material among other things and the gas industry is “booming” here. So many scenarios here. Time to get shopping! 😉

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  21. Hi Laurel/Laurie
    This is a great post. It is so true that folks are generally unprepared for this kind of emergency. We have home canned and other non perishable food stored….In the past three years we experienced three, week-long power outages. Having enough clean water was the big issue!
    Best,
    Gabrielle

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  22. Thanks for the tips! And for sharing your thoughts, very insightful indeed 🙂

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  23. If bad weather is coming, make sure you have propane for your gas grill because you can grill, boil or even fry on it if you have to. Also, fill up all or your sinks and tubs. At least you can boil the water to make sure it is safe.

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  24. Reblogged this on My Foray Into Food Storage and commented:

    A good reminder…

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